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New Banff Elementary construction to begin in fall

Canadian Rockies Public Schools want to have shovels in the dirt this fall for the first phase of Banff Elementary School modernization.

Canadian Rockies Public Schools want to have shovels in the dirt this fall for the first phase of Banff Elementary School modernization.

Excitement is building at CRPS as it is in the final stages of the design process for a new school for the mountain town. Since CRPS applied for the modernization of BES over a decade ago, it was determined the aging school needed a permanent replacement to better house the growing number of students. The new school was granted by the province in 2014 and will be completed in two phases over the coming years.

Phase one is estimated to start in September or October 2015 and will consist of the development of the “core of the new school” with $8.4 million granted for the project, said Ken Riordon, CRPS facilities manager.

“We’re going to build a new building at the rear of the (existing) school, which will contain office space, washrooms, auxiliary rooms and probably about 10 classrooms and that will be in operation, along with the current school, until phase two is complete,” Riordon said.

Phase two is still a few years away and needs provincial approval to go forward. CRPS estimates when they do apply, the request for funds will be for approximately $12 million. The second phase will consist of building the remainder of the new school, including 14-15 classrooms, a library and gymnasium. Once the second phase is complete, the existing school will be demolished.

“We have the support of education and infrastructure on this approach, so we expect to be top of the list when this phase two project goes up for approval,” Riordon said.

While construction is underway during the two phases, BES students will not have to be relocated, said Riordon.

The new facility will have the capacity to accommodate 550 students and will likely turn into a Kindergarten to Grade 8 – it’s currently Kindergarten to Grade 6 – to alleviate the pressure of the growing student body on Banff Community High School, which has a capacity of approximately 380 students.

“We’re facing a crunch,” Riordon said. “When (CRPS) first applied for the BES modernization 11 years ago, the student population (at BES) was around 300. Now they’re expecting over 400 this fall.”

Some space in the new school will serve as Town of Banff space for community programs. And with the new gym facility being built, the option to build upon the provincial standard gymnasium to a larger one to accommodate more activities for the Banff community, will be brought forward to Banff council.

The provincial government issued a report on school projects during Infrastructure Minister Manmeet Bhuller’s update announcement last week. In the report, it stated the estimated construction on BES phase one would begin this month, although CRPS has clarified fall is their targetted beginning.

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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